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BY ZACH MORTICE

Carré Casgrain in Montreal. Photo by Alexander Cassini, ASLA.

The reasons that Alexander Cassini, ASLA, got involved with the Carré Casgrain community garden in the Little Italy neighborhood of Montreal are as common as such green spaces should be. It was a chance to get to know neighbors, “foster a feeling of belonging,” and a way to “feel rooted in something real,” he says. Since the fall of 2017, Cassini, a landscape architect with Claude Cormier + Associés, has worked with a group of a half-dozen neighbors to plant, maintain, and program the space.

It all went pretty much according to plan. As a landscape designer, Cassini says his role has been “offering a bigger vision” and sketching out simple plans for the 2,000-square-foot garden. Planting mounds extended into the rectangular site from concrete blocks painted with playful depictions of plants and produce, smiling carrots, and stacked bowls. There’s open space for event programming, and lights and festive flags are strung overhead, all typical of the block-level intimacy community gardens use to beguile. Cassini and his neighbors, calling themselves “Le Carré et sa Ruelle” (French for “The Square and Its Lane”), grew cherry tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and strawberries. They hosted BBQs, movies, concerts, and even a lecture about ways to minimize one’s trash footprint. Monarch butterflies were frequent guests as well. But for Cassini, “the fun part is that besides those more organized events, it also took off as an informal space, [where] you could just walk from work and see a couple neighbors having a drink there, hanging out,” he says.

But the good times came to an end in October 2019, after three seasons of planting and harvesting, when Albino Del Tedesco, the owner of the vacant lot the community garden sat on, sent out a backhoe to tear the garden apart, raking over the one-and-a-half-foot mounds with a diesel engine. (more…)

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LETHAL GLASS LANDSCAPES

BY JEFF LINK

A proposed building and landscape ordinance could shape the future of bird-friendly design in Chicago.

FROM THE FEBRUARY 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

On a mild Friday in early May, Ted Wolff took a personal day and drove to the Ballard Nature Center in Altamont, Illinois, to catch a glimpse of Lewis’s woodpecker, a nearly foot-long, pink- and white-breasted bird native to the western United States. Along with two other Chicago birders, Wolff, the garrulous, white-bearded principal of Wolff Landscape Architecture, was on a “twitch,” an English expression for pursuing a bird in a geographic area where it is rarely seen.

Early that morning, an Illinois Rare Bird Alert reported that the woodpecker—named after the explorer Meriwether Lewis, who first saw the bird on his expedition with William Clark—had been seen at the nature center. It was reason enough for Wolff to clear his docket. Before long, the three birders were driving south to be among the first people to see the bird in Illinois, outside its historic range.

When they entered the nature center’s indoor viewing area, the woodpecker was already perched on a platform feeder—a “walk-up,” in birder’s parlance—eating shelled peanuts in front of a one-way reflective plate glass window. They watched it peck at the platform for several minutes, then fly to a hackberry with a peanut wedged in its bill, pausing before circling back to the feeder.

“At some point, though,” Wolff told me later in his office on the sixth floor of the Old Republic Building on North Michigan Avenue, “it flies over toward the feeder and overshoots and flies into the window. I think it sees its own reflection and it sort of pulls up and touches the window lightly and is able to fly off.”

Many birds are not so lucky. Ornithologists estimate that up to a billion birds, often migratory birds listed as species of conservation concern, die in building collisions in the United States annually—collisions that Wolff says are largely preventable, and deaths that warrant a stronger response from landscape architects as advocates for bird-friendly design. (more…)

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BY BRIAN BARTH

A flood-friendly park re-creates a resilient landscape in Calgary’s Bow River.

FROM THE JANUARY 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

In the summer of 2013, catastrophic flooding in southern Alberta killed five people and forced 100,000 to evacuate. With $6 billion in property damage, it was one of the costliest natural disasters in Canadian history. The swollen Bow River, which flows from glacial headwaters in the Rockies to Calgary, left much of the city’s urban core underwater. The inundated area included St. Patrick’s Island, one of several islands in the downtown stretch of the river, where Barbara Wilks, FASLA, and Mark Johnson, FASLA, had just kicked off construction on a new 31-acre park. A new pedestrian bridge to the island, which was partially built at the time, suffered significant damage. But for the park itself, Wilks and Johnson—the founders of W Architecture and Landscape Architecture and Civitas, respectively—say the floodwaters provided positive reinforcement of their design.

This was not the initial reaction, however, of the folks at the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC), their client.

“Our client called and said, ‘Oh, God, you have to get up here; we’re going to have to change the design,’” said Johnson as he, Wilks, and I strolled across the bridge to the completed park on a clear spring day.

“The whole island flooded!’” Wilks recalled members of the CMLC team saying in an urgent and distressed call. “We said, ‘It’s going to be fine; there’s nothing to change. We designed it to flood—this is what’s supposed to happen.’” (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Weathermen consists of five snowman figures set on the iced-over Red River. Photo by Jaemee Studio.

There’s something unmistakably structural about a snowman: the tripartite column, the sequential progression of base, torso, and head. It might be every cold-weather kid’s first lesson in engineering and construction. It is also the inspiration for Jaemee Studio’s entry for Winnipeg’s annual Warming Huts design competition.

Weathermen consists of five snowman figures set on the frozen Red River; the largest few are hollow and big enough for a small group of people to huddle inside. They are among several warming huts to be commissioned for Winnipeg’s annual competition, which began in 2009. In addition to others, Weathermen joins Huttie, a “psychedelic funhouse” hut, in offering a whimsical vision of winter recreation in the city’s downtown. (more…)

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The things our art director, Chris McGee, hated to leave out of the current issue of LAM.

Photo by Brian Barth.

From “In the Hunt” in the January 2019 issue by Brian Barth, about Kinngaaluk Territorial Park in Nunavut, Canada, which will preserve the region’s flora, fauna, and Inuit traditions.

“Sacred soil solitude.”

–CHRIS MCGEE, LAM ART DIRECTOR

As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 700 bookstores, including many university stores and independents, as well as at Barnes & Noble. You can also buy single digital issues for only $5.25 at Zinio or order single copies of the print issue from ASLA. Annual subscriptions for LAM are a thrifty $59 for print and $44.25 for digital. Our subscription page has more information on subscription options.

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It’s the beginning of January, which means the latest issue of LAM is here! You’ll find these stories inside:

FOREGROUND

Circle of Knowledge (Campus)
The University of Chicago’s Crerar Science Quad gets a well-rounded redesign.

Ready for Anything (Palette)
The landscapes of Karen Ford, ASLA, are making a mark in the Pacific Northwest.

FEATURES

In the Hunt
Kinngaaluk Territorial Park in Nunavut, Canada, will preserve flora and fauna,
as well as local Inuit traditions.

 Open Office
In Seattle, the spheres of Amazon’s new, plant-filled alternative work space
take their cues from an equatorial cloud forest.

All this plus the regular Now and Goods columns. The full table of contents for January can be found here.

As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 700 bookstores, including many university stores and independents, as well as at Barnes & Noble. You can also buy single digital issues for only $5.25 at Zinio or order single copies of the print issue from ASLA. Annual subscriptions for LAM are a thrifty $59 for print and $44.25 for digital. Our subscription page has more information on subscription options.

Keep an eye out here on the blog, on the LAM Facebook page, and on our Twitter feed (@landarchmag), as we’ll be posting January articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Circle of Knowledge,” Kate Joyce Studios; “Open Office,” Stuart Isett; “In the Hunt,” Brian Barth; “Ready for Anything,” Karen Ford, ASLA. 

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto, a favorite of Janet Rosenberg. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons, Benson Kua.

FOUR LANDSCAPE DESIGNERS ON THE PLACES THEY LOVE WHEN WINTER TAKES HOLD  

Winter landscapes earn their allure with the opposition to comfort and ease they put forth. In the wild, that might be a sense of enclosure amid the otherwise inhospitable. In a city, this could entail seeking out community and connection when it’s far from convenient to do so. The cold air, simply by existing, adds meaning to our interactions with each other and the world around us. You have to want to be out there, and to offer respect to the flora, fauna, and fellow humanity that is out there with you. So here are four landscape designers (three landscape architects and one architect) unpacking the wintertime landscapes that have (more…)

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